St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay vetoed last week the bill that would add speed bumps to O'Fallon Park — and the alderman representing the neighborhood, Antonio French, is not happy.
"It's ridiculous," he says. "The people of north St. Louis and the visitors of O'Fallon Park deserve the same level of protection as the people who visit Tower Grove Park and Forest Park. His veto has more to do with politics than it does with public safety."
To French's mind, the veto serves as further evidence that people north of Delmar get treated differently than people south of Delmar.
"This is just the latest example of how this man's office does not take public safety in north St. Louis seriously," he says. "So when this city gets labeled 'most dangerous,' Slay comes out and says, 'Well, it's only in some neighborhoods,' — which is a veiled code for north St. Louis."
The mayor released a statement to the aldermen, as well as a blog post to the public explaining his veto.
"Today, I vetoed an odd little bill that would have paid for the installation of speed bumps in one of the city's 105 parks," he wrote on his blog. "The bill's sponsor ignored the testimony of the streets department that there were better and more effective ways to slow traffic, and the opinion of the city counselor that such constructions are legally questionable under state and federal law."
But if that's the case, French wonders, why are speed bumps allowed in other parks?
"If this mayor now wants to lead an anti-speed-bump policy across the city, then he needs to be asking the people of Tower Grove Park to pull up their speed bumps and the people of Forest Park to pull up their speed bumps," he says. "But it's just unfair, and it's just disrespectful to the people of north St. Louis."
The bill had induced a surprising level of floor debate amongst the Board of Aldermen a few weeks ago, but it eventually passed, 15 to 9. And while French wasn't totally shocked by the veto, he didn't really expect it, either.
"There were some rumblings that the mayor might veto it, but I didn't think he'd be that petty," he says. "He uses his veto — which he so rarely ever uses — for something as important as this. This is silly. It's just silly. And it's petty. He needs to spend his time dealing with the city's real problems, like jobs, murders, crime rates — instead of wasting people's time and spending energy and political capital on things like speed bumps or Stray Rescue or Del Taco."
And then he adds:
"His Twitter feed reads like a teenage girl's look at the world."
French says he hopes to override the veto once the board of aldermen gets back in session in September.
"It's a shame that we have to fight the mayor's office," he says, "when we're obviously making huge progress and revitalizing this section of north St. Louis."